President advises students to "Wise Up"

Record enrollment overflows La Sierra church for convocation.
Record enrollment overflows La Sierra church for convocation.

September 30, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( As La Sierra University’s annual convocation service began Sept. 29 students were lined up outside the university church while their classmates struggled to make room in crowded pews.

The university celebrates another year of record enrollment. Provost Steve Pawluk made the announcement near the start of the service to the cheers of hundreds of students. “You have helped us set one more enrollment record in the history of this university,” he said. He noted that the students’ “investigative minds, insightful comments and diverse backgrounds” will enhance the university. Convocation “signifies the beginning of a life-changing academic year, one that will offer all sorts of blessings and adventures if you have the curiosity to seek them and the courage to embrace them,” Pawluk said.

The ceremony began with the customary processional of faculty and administrators robed in academic regalia. Chris Oberg, senior pastor of the La Sierra University Church welcomed the students to campus with promises of care for the physical and spiritual wellbeing. “One thing this church will do is feed you,” she said. She invited the students to pancakes at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and lunch on the university’s Founder’s Green. She also told the students the church will pray for them. “The people of La Sierra University Church already think you belong to them, so welcome to this place,” she said.

La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey in his address titled “Wise Up” emphasized the importance of wisdom and the wisdom that students will acquire if they interact with faculty and seek their support.

La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey
La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey

“The Bible speaks of this need to ‘wise up’,” Wisbey said. “In fact, it seems to me that from the very beginning of Genesis to the final chapter of Revelation, the Bible is the story of men and women, very much like us, who are searching for God and for purpose. Of men and women …whose hearts grow cold far too fast, who step away from God’s plan and God’s love far too quickly.  Of men and women who desperately need to wise up.”

“At the beginning of a new academic year, God has a word for each of us.  It is a promise from the book of James—‘If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you,’” Wisbey said.

He continued, “throughout time, the relationship between a teacher and a student has been focused on attaining wisdom and understanding.” Wisbey told students their professors, who have dedicated their lives to helping them reach their goals, will prod, guide and “ask questions that will make you think.”

“At times we will see the world very differently, yet as we address issues together, we will find that we all will grow in our understanding of what it means to be wise—and who it is that truly and fully exhibits the fruits of wisdom,” Wisbey said.

Finally, true wisdom emanates from God and is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and not hypocritical,” he said. “Wisdom would make our face shine and the hardness of our countenance would be changed.”

La Sierra University Church Senior Pastor Chris Oberg
La Sierra University Church Senior Pastor Chris Oberg

“Today, at La Sierra University, we are renewing our commitment to follow Jesus who, we are told, ‘grew in wisdom and in stature with God and man,’” Wisbey said.

Following the service two students, sophomores who transferred last year from Los Angeles Mission College, discussed their thoughts as they enter the new school year. Pre-nursing major Denise Casas said she was most concerned about “conquering chemistry” and was excited about “everything.”

Her friend, fellow transfer student Tania Acuna, pre-med major, expressed some anxiety over her whether to remain in her field of study. “I’m worried that what I decided to major in is not really what I want to do,” she said.

But Acuna will apply her wisdom and consider the options of whether to study medicine or switch to law. In the mean time she is looking forward to at least one thing this year. “There’s a psychology of law class that I’m taking that I’m really excited about,” she said.


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  September 30, 2011